Going Opposite

Being rebellious usually gets the thumbs down reaction from the Christian crowd. We tend to find those verses that talk about being respectful, obedient & compliant & there are heaps of Bible verses to support this mindset.

However, being a person who finds herself sometimes at odds with many societal norms, let me highlight some ways that Jesus went the opposite of the culture & society of His day.

  • Unexpected: Jesus didn’t cater to what people expected from Him. Consider in His first miracle that He told His mom to “chill out” (my slang for “Woman, My time is not yet come”)
  • Forgiveness: when all the religious leaders of His day wanted Jesus to condemn the woman caught in adultery, Jesus forgave her & the intolerance / judgment evaporated
  • Genuine Love: one of my favorite quotes from Jesus: “He who has been forgiven much, loves much; but he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
  • Miracles: Jesus defied conventional thinking by frequently doing miracles: multiplying food, cleansing lepers, restoring promiscuous women, healing the unclean & driving out demonic forces, just to name a few.

If we are followers of Jesus, then we must go the opposite of our flesh, religious intolerance, demonic influences & cultural trends. Most of all, let’s personify genuine love because of the Holy Spirit working in our mindsets, conversations & actions!

What Are You Thinking?

“A penny for your thoughts?”

This is a question people often ask when someone seems deep in thought or reflective.  It’s a good question to ask when you’re getting to know someone or when a person seems unusually quiet.  But it’s also a good question to ask ourselves from time to time, forcing us to take a thought inventory.

Taking an inventory of our thoughts is important because it lets us see places in our thinking where we can make some helpful adjustments.   Indeed, consider some of the things Paul says about our thoughts:

  • 2 Cor 10:5, “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
  • Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”
  • Rom 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”

Let’s be attentive to our thoughts because they influence our lives in very powerful but subtle ways!

Speaking With Wisdom

Almost all of us have said things we wish we hadn’t. A few weeks back, I was passing through our church lobby & greeting various attendees & I shot off my mouth. I felt totally stupid & wish I could stuff those words back in my mouth. But of course, I can’t.
Here’s some wisdom my friend told me that I’ve employed & found to be immensely helpful. When speaking, consider these questions:

  1. Should this be said?
  2. Am I the person to say this?
  3. Is this the right time to say this?

Feel free to share this with your fiends & friends ,)

While You Wait

All of us have prayers that we are waiting for God to answer. Such prayers can be related to job, school application, health diagnosis, relationship challenges, kid stuff, finances, etc. It seems to me that waiting can be a problem for us, so here are a few ideas for your consideration, while you wait:

  • Take this opportunity to let your trust in God grow – Prov 22:19
  • Increase your prayer focus – Phil 4:6
  • Do little things to make progress – Gal 6:9

Let’s stay encouraged that God is answering our prayers!

I Want MORE!!!!

Friday, I had a glorious day of snowboarding!! The sun was out, snow was good, runs were empty & there was no wind. Needless to say, I could’ve ridden for endless hours & enjoyed a unique bliss that’s not easily acquired. But alas, I stopped when I could’ve gone for heaps more.
I think it’s very human to want more – more dessert, more sleep, more success, more adrenaline, more chocolate, more vacation, etc. But alas, there’s such a thing as overdose & it’s not just for drugs. We would be wise to quit while we still want more. This principle is a healthy guideline across the entirety of our lives with one exception: Jesus.
We are designed to crave our Creator & our lives will remain unsatisfied until we appreciate that ultimately, we’re only fulfilled through a rich, vibrant & continuous relationship with Jesus!

Oblivious

It’s probably not good to be oblivious, but it happens. For example, last year I had a snowboarding accident & sustained a concussion. This was no bueno & for a season, I was clueless to lots of stuff around me & also in my own emotions & thinking processes. This was a really difficult experience for me & id prefer not to repeat it, ever.

But here are some ways that we might be oblivious that need consideration.  We can be oblivious to:

  • what’s happening around us (with people, situations, events, etc),
  • what’s happening inside of ourselves (thoughts, emotions, mind sets, etc)
  • the Holy Spirit

Being oblivious in these areas can create some extremely difficult problems, conversations, hardships & experiences.
We would be wise to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pay attention, increase our awareness & give us wisdom so we don’t go through life in mindless oblivion 🙂

Help All the Time

Recently, a friend was telling me about a new project assigned to her & she was not just a little intimidated! She kept telling me that she didn’t feel adequate nor capable to do this project. As I listened, I felt really bad for my friend because she didn’t seem to think that she could ask God to help her.

While I’m concerned for my friend, I’m also encouraged with myself for this default reaction to ask for Help. The fact that I would instinctively ask the Holy Spirit to help me is really positive progress for me, a former independence junkie, hopefully.
As I write this, I’m asking for the Holy Spirit to help me almost minute by minute today, as this particular day is unusually jammed with responsibilities, important events & a plethora of diverse needs. Feel free to ask for divine Help throughout your day as well, no matter what’s happening or not!

Change the Harvest

Last week I had a blinding flash of the obvious: we reap what we sow.

The brilliant part of this wisdom is that we often reap in fields that are different from where we sow. But no matter where we reap, the principle remains the same – we reap what we sow.
So what do you want? If you want something different than your current results perhaps it’s time to consider the seeds that you’re sowing. If you’re planting gossip, strife, belittling, condescension & insecurity, don’t be surprised when those show up in your life.
On the other hand, planting encouragement, stability, patience & other good seeds produce a harvest after its kind, across a wide array of fields!
Let’s be sure we are planting the seeds that we want to harvest!

Crazy Ideas

I have heaps of crazy ideas & what’s really interesting is that I’m not afraid to try out lots of these ideas. Sometimes it works out well & sometimes it’s a disaster. Over the course of time, I’ve grown accustomed to the raised eyebrows & quizzical looks that people give me, but there are few friends who give me the thumbs up & seem to enjoy these grand adventures.

Sometimes, I think the Holy Spirit has some crazy ideas as well. I’ve had the Holy Spirit direct my steps to do some really incredible things, like starting nightcare with Saving Moses, teaching German in China & learning some fun languages! Let’s be careful that we don’t automatically dismiss something crazy & miss an opportunity to follow the Holy Spirit on a fun adventure!!

Lots of Oooooops!!

This morning seems to be fraught with “oooooops!” and not just a few. Some of these mishaps are relatively minor, but when they stack up, things can get “challenging.” I’m hoping that the entirety of this day isn’t a string of consecutive mishaps. But even if this day goes from “oooops to oooops”, rather than “glory to glory”, I’m deciding to go with trusting God more than dwelling in the frustration.

When I write this, it sounds good, but the individual decisions to walk out this mindset is where the rubber hits the road. And this is where the step by step reliance on the Holy Spirit moves into execution mode more than speculation & ethereal platitudes.
I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, but feel free to join me in making these decisions to trust God throughout your day today!

tuning your day

I really like listening to symphonies and experiencing the music from excellent orchestras.  I think I acquired this appreciation from various field trips to the orchestra when I was in elementary school and maybe from a few of those heinous piano lessons in my childhood, maybe.  I get extremely excited when I start to hear an orchestra tune for the performance – like a giddy anticipation of the ensuing excitement that is about to unfold.  Here’s a brief link to an orchestra tuning & I’d encourage you to focus on the one instrument to which all the others are attempting to match.

I bring up this example today because many of us have pieces & parts to our lives that can feel disjointed & unconnected.  Let me encourage you today, to tune your attention to the Holy Spirit to give cohesion, direction and order to what can seem random & chaotic in your life.  Sometimes we need to remove some clutter that creates cacophony & disorder.  Sometimes, we may need to slow down to hear the Holy Spirit better.  And sometimes we may need to have some internal fine-tuning so that our lives express the love of God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit – Romans 5:5 🙂

Liking Time

It seems to me that most of us don’t like time, maybe because we don’t seem to have enough of it, or we resent the pressure it applies. When I was a kid, I didn’t like time because it seems like an eternity – now it often seems scarce.

Perhaps for these reasons & loads more, God told us to keep a Sabbath, the day of rest & refrain from work. I think that if we don’t structure our energies, resources & time to conform to God’s imperatives, we harm & even break ourselves from misusing & abusing God’s provisions.
Today, I have a pause & I find myself being not just relaxed but maybe more importantly refreshed in this space & time to exhale. Furthermore, the pause let’s me give some undistracted focus to being with God & there’s nothing my soul craves more than this intimacy with my Creator.
Let’s be grateful for time, by using it according to God’s instructions.

Seasoning

One of my children was doing some cooking & attempting to make omelettes. This child enjoys garlic, so they put 1/4 cup of chopped garlic in the omelette & proceeded to eat it. For almost a week after this adventure, this person continued to reek of garlic, despite showers, baths & long hours in a swimming pool. It was a good lesson on the principle of moderation.
Using moderation is good in lots of applications. Here are some specific areas for daily living

  • Correction & Confrontation: when we need to have a sharp conversation, we would be wise to blend some sincere & gentle words into the discussion
  • Work & Rest: our personalities tend toward one extreme or the other, so we would be wise to build in some balance with our schedules & planning
    Proverbs 25:27a

Unexpected

“Please keep talking.” I popped into Walmart last week for a quick errand after dropping off my son for school & the register chick said this to me. I sheepishly looked at her because I was wearing my hoodie & sweats, not the hair & makeup routine for tv. I could tell she recognized my voice & was trying to match the visual image to my voice. With chagrin I said, “You probably know me from tv with my mom, Marilyn Hickey.”

I love what she said, “I knew your voice immediately but I didn’t expect to see you in my register lane.”
I’ve thought about this for several days because I think this lesson applies to us recognizing Jesus’ voice regardless of our location or expectations. We expect to hear Jesus when we read our Bible or go to church. But let’s also listen for Jesus throughout this day 🙂

In The Moment

I’m not a planner. Indeed, spontaneity is fun for me & I enjoy being agile for various adventures, mostly. But I’ve come to appreciate that planning can often make things better & so I’ve learned to value the process.
With that said, I’m learning that God is both the Perfect Planner & Playful Partner. I can see the strategic hand of God when I look back at various seasons & experiences. But let’s also be willing to follow God moment by moment in nimble obedience & undisputed trust!

Make Mistakes

Perfect is for heaven & practice is for earth. I’m the poster child for making mistakes, stubbing my toe & failing. I’m ok with that because I can hopefully encourage others to try, learn, grow & improve.

We get ourselves in a dangerous place when we quit or stop trying. Here are some things that could help you to keep trying:

  • Learn – what’s the last thing you learned, besides various facts? What skill are you learning?
  • Grow – sometimes it hurts to grow & this can be associated with growing pains. But growing means something is alive!
  • Step – a step is progress, even if it’s small 🙂

Love on Valentines Day

This picture is the word “love” in 9 different languages. It took me awhile to practice the one in Mandarin & I think I kind of botched the Arabic one. But the idea remains the same regardless of the script or language.
Valentines Day is often attributed to expressing romantic love, but genuine love is WAY MORE than romance. Genuine love is grounded in the reality that God is love & nothing we do or don’t do will change Who God is, full stop. God will never stop loving you because God will never stop existing.
So let’s not only celebrate that God loves us, but let’s allow that opulent & lavish love God gives us to overflow through us today!

Porcupine Suit

Have you have a few hours, days, weeks, etc when you would like to rent a porcupine suit? These are the times when you feel particularly bristly & not very friendly. As a follower of Jesus, it seems to me that I shouldn’t be like this. But alas, I can be cranky & cantankerous. In these times, I’d like to rent a porcupine suit & I should probably hibernate from social interaction so I don’t stab anyone with my bristly demeanor.

In these times, I need to let the Holy Spirit soothe the needles & console the grumpy. I may have some very good reasons to be cranky, but I must never resist help from the Holy Spirit to be better than my feelings, full stop.

Changing Plans

I changed my plans for today at the last minute. I was going to go snowboarding, but decided that there are more pressing needs at home than my snowboarding interests.
In 1Samuel 13, Saul changed his plans as well. He & Samuel made a plan to make a sacrifice together but he got scared & offered the sacrifice without Samuel. This was a major downfall for Saul & Samuel explained shortly after Saul’s fearful decision, that God had sought out a different leader for Israel, a man after His heart (1San 13:14).
Saul changed the plan he had made with Samuel because he was afraid of his enemy, the Philistines, & saw the Israelite’ support of his leadership rapidly eroding.
While I’m a massive advocate of flexible planning, I’m growing to appreciate the importance of keeping God’s goals as unchanging piers to anchor my soul, regardless of my environs, feelings or selfish preferences.
God’s goals always related to genuine love & connecting humanity to God’s heart in deep intimacy. Let’s be sure that we keep God’s plans more central to our choices rather than our selfish interests, including my snowboarding plans 🙂

Don’t Speak

I’ve tried a few times today to write this blog & found myself relatively speechless – an unusual experience for sure ,)
Obviously, something happened because I’m writing now. Actually, nothing happened, except that I remembered Job’s friends. Whenever I read this book, I’m not just a little disappointed or pt off with his buddies. Their words seem harsh, condemning & altogether insensitive. Indeed, the last verse of Job 2 seems to be the high point of their contribution to consoling Job. In this verse it says, “Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”
Sometimes the best thing we can do for a friend who is suffering is just to quietly be present with them. Sometimes our words can be unhelpful, particularly when we don’t know what to say. Sometimes, silence is golden 🙂